Chelsea Now: Them Darn Dems

Thomas K. Duane

June 18, 2009

Despite speculation over State Sen. Thomas Duane’s possible behind-the-scenes dealings with the rising Republican coalition in Albany, the Chelsea-based Democrat recently affirmed his allegiance to the home team.

“I’m with Malcolm Smith,” Duane said when asked about his suspected flirtation with the GOP. Last week—after the Senate devolved into chaos following defections by Sens. Pedro Espada and Hiram Monserrate to the other side of the aisle—Duane did little to dispel the rumors that he had been dialoguing with the Republicans.

But at a rally in Hell’s Kitchen over the weekend, he apparently didn’t feel like playing coy. “It’s inconceivable I would be a part of a Republican [coalition],” he said. Regarding his loyalty to Malcolm, Duane was questioned about reports that very day stating that the Democrats had forced Smith aside in favor of Brooklyn Sen. John Sampson. “Was that news? Or was that rumor?” he replied.

Actually, Tom, that one panned out. Currently, the Senate is deadlocked at 31-31 following Monserrate’s return to the Dems earlier this week, which should give Duane some breathing room while pushing for legislation like gay marriage and rent reforms. He explained that every bill he’s passed has come with bipartisan support, “and I expect that’s how marriage will go.”

However, he didn’t comment on whether it could be accomplished by the end of the session—if the Senate can even reconvene by that deadline. “I am always optimistic that we can accomplish things in Albany, including marriage and the repeal of vacancy decontrol,” he said, also mentioning his work on the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) and the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA).

“Obviously none of us knows what the future holds, but that is always just an extra incentive for everybody to keep working, because we should never take anything for granted, [and] we should never assume that something can’t happen.”